Friday, July 18, 2014

Kalevala: Väinämöinen and the Mistress of Pohjola (end)

This story is part of the Kalevala unit. Story source: Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot, translated by W. F. Kirby (1907).

Runo 7: Väinämöinen and the Mistress of Pohjola (end)
(see previous page for audio)

After this, she spoke and asked him,
In the very words which follow:
"Why did'st weep, O Väinämöinen,
Why lament, Uvantolainen,
In that miserable region,
On the borders of the lakelet?"

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Cause enough have I for weeping,
Reason, too, for lamentation:
In the sea I long was swimming,
Tossed about upon the billows,
On the wide expanse of water,
Out upon the open ocean.
I must weep throughout my lifespan,
And lament throughout my lifetime,
That I swam beyond my country,
Left the country so familiar,
And have come to doors I know not,
And to hedge-gates that I know not,
All the trees around me pain me,
All the pine-twigs seem to pierce me,
Every birch-tree seems to flog me,
Every alder seems to wound me,
But the wind is friendly to me,
And the sun still shines upon me,
In this unaccustomed country,
And within the doors I know not."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Do not weep, O Väinämöinen,
Nor lament, Uvantolainen:
Here 'tis good for thee to sojourn,
And to pass thy days in comfort;
Salmon you can eat at table,
And beside it pork is standing."

But the aged Väinämöinen
Answered in the words which follow:
"Foreign food I do not relish,
In the best of strangers' houses:
In his land a man is better,
In his home a man is greater.
Grant me, Jumala most gracious,
O compassionate Creator,
Once again to reach my country,
And the land I used to dwell in!
Better is a man's own country,
Water from beneath the sabot,
Than in unfamiliar countries,
Mead to drink from golden goblets."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"What are you prepared to give me,
If I send you to your country,
To the borders of your cornfields,
Or the bath-house of your dwelling?"

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"Tell me then what I shall give you,
If you send me to my country,
To the borders of my cornfields,
There to hear my cuckoo calling,
And my birds so sweetly singing.
Will you choose a gold-filled helmet,
Or a hat filled up with silver?"

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"O thou wisest Väinämöinen,
Thou the oldest of the sages,
Golden gifts I do not ask for,
And I wish not for thy silver:
Gold is but a toy for children,
Silver bells adorn the horses,
But if you can forge a Sampo,
Weld its many-coloured cover,
From the tips of swan's white wing-plumes,
From the milk of barren heifer,
From a single grain of barley,
From a single fleece of ewe's wool,
Then will I my daughter give you,
Give the maiden as your guerdon,
And will bring you to your country,
There to hear the birds all singing,
There to hear your cuckoo calling,
On the borders of your cornfields."

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"No, I cannot forge a Sampo,
Nor can weld its pictured cover;
Only bring me to my country,
And I'll send you Ilmarinen,
Who shall forge a Sampo for you,
Weld its many-coloured cover.
He perchance may please the maiden,
Win your daughter's young affections:
He's a smith without an equal,
None can wield the hammer like him,
For 'twas he who forged the heaven,
And who wrought the air's foundations,
Yet we find no trace of hammer,
Nor the trace of tongs discover."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"I will only yield my daughter,
And my child I promise only
To the man who welds a Sampo
With its many-coloured cover,
From the tips of swan's white wing-plumes,
From the milk of barren heifer,
From a single grain of barley,
From a single fleece of ewe's wool."

Thereupon the colt she harnessed,
In the front she yoked the bay one,
And she placed old Väinämöinen
In the sledge behind the stallion,
And she spoke and thus addressed him,
In the very words which follow:
"Do not raise your head up higher,
Turn it not to gaze about you,
That the steed may not be wearied,
Till the evening shall have gathered:
If you dare to raise your head up,
Or to turn to gaze around you,
Then misfortune will o'ertake you,
And an evil day betide you."

Then the aged Väinämöinen
Whipped the horse, and urged him onward,
And the white-maned courser hastened
Noisily upon the journey,
Forth from Pohjola's dark regions,
Sariola for ever misty.


(800 words)







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